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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Crossing Critters


Week two is over and done. It has been an interesting week to say the least. I was assigned to the location of the ranch where I will be working for the majority of the summer. I am working with 5 pivot irrigation, some gated pipe, and lots of ditches. Setting the dams on the ditches will prove to be fun. There is lots and LOTS of walking, but at least I get to see lots of things in the river bottoms that I am in. And the ditches will be a nice relief when it gets hot. I might be known to 'accidentally' fall in once in a while. Ha ha. I had to replace lots of pipeline this week. All sorts of busted pipe or worn gaskets. Some of my main ditches that carry the water to the pastures are in major disrepair. Half of my pastures actually look like rivers right now, until I can get the back hoe to come over and dig out the ditches and build up the banks again.

I have a herd 187 or so pairs to take care of. We are keeping them on some barley and alfalfa under pivots until we move them to the hills for the summer. The pivots are by far the easiest form of irrigation I have to set. I found a dead calf in one of the pastures this week. Not really sure what it died of, those things just happen sometimes. I have to keep records of everything I feed the cattle, when I move them, and if I doctor any calves. Since the calves are being raised for a natural beef program, we have to keep track of any that are given medicines.

We moved the other herd of cattle from my part of the ranch to the main location to be worked tomorrow and turned out on the hills with the rest of the herds, preparing them to take in the mountains in a couple of weeks. I got to ride a fox trotter gelding. He was alright, a little head shy, but actually a good cow horse. He kept his nose right on the calves while we were pushing them down the road. The boss told me he was actually really impressed with my riding skills and working the cattle on him. I guess I never really have seen myself ride, so I wouldn't know. Maybe all those years of watching and messing around on horses have taught me a few things. We hauled these 90 pair and it took all day. I was stuck in a 92 Dodge 2500 gas engine, so I only got to about 45 on the road. That's all the truck had in it.

While we were hauling those cattle I had to stop for just about everything on the road. A herd of red Angus cattle, a herd of Angus bulls, sheep, construction, deer, and everything else you could imagine. I couldn't get any work done for all the construction vehicles and cows on the road. I have seen just about all other sorts of animals around here this week too. About 20 mule deer every night. Several jack rabbits. 6 snakes. A skunk that I walked up on. Some antelope. Plenty of turkey. Lots of ring tailed pheasants. Lots of prairie dogs. They are funny cause they dig holes everywhere and stick their heads out and look around every time you come by. Some other prairie dog looking rodents. Even some Emu looking birds. I have no clue what they were.

I did get a little aggravated with myself this week. I am working with this girl from Michigan on my location of the ranch. She is going to vet school this fall and has really never had much experience with ranch work. I love teaching people what I know about ranch work and it is a great feeling when I see them understand it after I show them. But I get so aggravated because this girl takes for ever to get anything done, and I spend so much time showing her how to do stuff. Its kinda like she has no initiative start anything or to get things completed so we can get all our stuff done for the day. And for all this time I am showing her how to do everything, I can't get to everything I have to do for the day. So I told Will, the ranch manager, that I feel bad because I don't want it to look like I am not doing anything when I don't get to everything for that day. He told me it was the opposite, and he really liked the fact that I can teach things that will be new to someone else, and he said I was doing more than what he thought I could get to. I guess no matter how much I try, I will never get over trying to make sure my boss at a new job knows that I am a hard worker.

I love this place more and more every day that I spend here. Any pictures that I take will never do justice to the landscapes. I drive back east toward the mountains every afternoon, and the sun hits the mountains sides just right, it's kinda like I get to ride into a picture every day. It is awesome to see cattle dotting the hillsides and pastures with the snow capped mountain tops in the faded distance. Just the rolling of the basin itself is worth sitting and looking over. This summer is reminding me how much I really enjoy working on a ranch and with cattle, even if the work isn't always all fun and games.